On the subway this morning, I got a sent next to a woman in a conservative, below-the-knee grey suit with her face made up like a skull. No one gave her a second look, including me. At least, not until I got off at my start and glanced back as I climbed the escalator to see her strange white face peering out the train door I had just exited.
In a city that tends to be defined by its chaos, Halloween is a whole different order of holiday. Back in our small town in Illinois, Halloween was full of kids in hay wagons, an excuse for an evening stroll under the stars or a visit with the neighbors you don’t see often enough. Here it’s more like your idea of the city, one that lies hidden most of the time, suddenly comes out into the daylight for all to see.
On my way home, the sanitation workers were loading garbage into the back of their truck while dressed as cowboys. On the next block, a lion was hailing a cab. And as I walked past a witch in striped tights, I heard the man passing on her other side hum the theme humming Miss Gulch’s theme.
Back home in Brooklyn, though, the streets were packed with children and parents, all dressed up. I could barely get down the sidewalk to my apartment. The kids cleaned us out of candy in ten minutes, tops. But we sat on the stoop and watched the costumes go by until we started feeling guilty for disappointing children when they realized we had no more candy. Best costumes of the evening were a boy dressed as Steve from Minecraft in a costume he’d made himself out of cardboard boxes and a dad dressed as a pirate pushing his twin infants in a stroller turned into a pirate ship, complete with masts and elaborate rigging, all made out of paper.
And just like old times, we talked to the neighbors too. Cranky brought J over in her Supercat costume — a black cat costume with a purple and black cape. As an added bonus, if you say “Supercat” to her she starts to meow. Steve of Minecraft turned out to be the grandson of someone who lives downstairs from us. We also met his sister and his mom. Another of our neighbors came out to say hello and to see the costumes. the family with the baby who live below us were heading out to the parade with Baby E dressed in a sweater with an enormous candy corn on the front.
Last Halloween was much less festive. The parade was cancelled and the celebration was subdued in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Our neighborhood was full of evacuees but a lot of the locals were gone. It was a different kind of chaos and the celebration was more like, “Thank God we’re okay.” I’m watching the news of Austin, TX tonight and it’s looking all too familiar. Stay safe, Austin!